Mon, 31 October 2016
Thom Graziano, CompuClub
Thom Graziano was founder of CompuClub, an Atari mail-order company and retail store based in Massachusetts. The company began in 1983 and closed in 1986.
CompuClub ran full-page advertisements in the Atari magazines with the headline "The Greatest Atari of All Time." For a $5 annual membership, you could become a CompuClub member, which got you a subscription to their newsletter and access to their catalog of Atari software at "at least 25% below retail." The company only sold programs for the Atari computers — first, the 8-bits and later, the ST line.
This interview took place on October 13, 2016.
Teaser quote: "The Department of Defense was sending Atari software to schools all over the world ... I tried to be very up-front and very honest with them."
CompuClub newsletters: http://www.digitpress.com/library/newsletters/compuclub/
Sat, 29 October 2016
Kris Meier, CompuTalk BBS sysop
Kris Meier was sysop of CompuTalk BBS, a popular six-line BBS based in Texas that ran off off six Atari 800 computers. In this interview, I read from the article "CompuTalk: Texas-Sized BBS" by Gregg Pearlman, which ran in the August 1987 issue of Antic magazine.
This interview took place on October 6, 2016. In it, we discuss Tom Hudson, whom I previously interviewed.
"What? An Atari computer did this? Yeah. An Atari computer did this."
CompuTalk gets Antic magazine award: http://www.atarimagazines.com/v7n1/awards.html
CompuTalk mention in The North Texan, fall 1988: http://digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc119047/m1/5/
CompuTalk article in Longview News-Journal, July 7, 1985: https://www.newspapers.com/newspage/209903449/
Tom Hudson on CompuTalk: http://analog.klanky.com/funstuff.htm
Wed, 26 October 2016
Brian Lee, Synapse and Broderbund
Brian Lee started at clothing retailer The Gap, where he used Atari computers for expense control and store operations. He was Vice President of Product Development at Synapse Software from 1982 through 1985, where he managed the Syn line of business software, and programmed SynTrend. Next he was Director of Acquisition at Br0derbund from 1984 to 1985.
This interview took place on September 30, 2016. In it, we discuss Mike Silva, whom I previously interviewed.
"So he sat nervously with $30,000 in stacked, bound $100 bills in his jacket pockets, for the entire flight over from Japan."
Brian's web site: http://www.brianleeresume.com
Filling the GAP article in Antic magazine: http://www.atarimagazines.com/v2n3/fillingthegap.html
Mike Silva interview: http://ataripodcast.libsyn.com/antic-interview-170-mike-silva-syncalc
Inverse ATASCII podcast on SynTrend: https://inverseatascii.info/2016/10/16/s3e02-synapse-syntrend-synstat-syngraph-supplement/
Mon, 24 October 2016
Harry McCracken, Technology Journalist
Harry McCracken is a technology journalist — he's technology editor at Fast Company magazine. He cut his teeth on the TRS-80 and Atari 400 computers, including writing for Creative Computing magazine, and creating a game that he wanted to publish with Atari Program Exchange, but didn't finish.
This interview took place on September 27, 2016.
Harry on Twitter: https://twitter.com/harrymccracken
"...fact about the Atari 400 was that it had maybe the worst keyboard in the history of computing. ... Oddly enough I don't remember having trouble with the keyboard, maybe because when you're programming, it is, generally speaking, not about the speed at which you type."
Sat, 22 October 2016
Bruce Campbell, APX Character Fun
Bruce Campbell is the author of Character Fun, an educational game which was published by Atari Program Exchange. It appeared in the winter 1983 APX catalog — the final APX catalog.
This interview took place on September 22, 2016.
Shortly after we did this interview, Bruce sent me scans of the source code printout for Character Fun, it's now online at archive.org.
Character Fun source code: https://archive.org/details/AtariCharacterFunSourceCode
Thu, 20 October 2016
Ed Stewart and Ray Lyons, APX Letterman
Ed Stewart and Ray Lyons co-wrote Letterman, an educational word game that was first available in the winter 1982-1983 Atari Program Exchange catalog. Ed also wrote two articles for Antic magazine: "Hokey Pokey Interrupts" - on using POKEY timers in assembly language - and "Talk Is Cheap", a 1-bit audio digitizer. Ed also had two articles in Compute!'s Second Book of Atari: Memory Test and Back Up Your Machine Language Programs With BASIC.
This interview took place on September 15, 2016. The first voice you'll hear is Ed's.
"They played that thing for days. They would love to try and stump each other by typing in their own word, primarily."
After the interview, Ray emailed me this update: "There's one fact I wished I had included--and I'll tell you just in case you find it useful: This would have probably been early in the 2nd year of the sale of Letterman via the APX. Atari contacted us and asked us to sign some legal documents giving them permission to port Letterman to a ROM for one of their game platforms. My recall is that it was for the 2600. But I'm wondering if they were announcing a new model. Or maybe it was an updated 2600 with a keyboard added? Sorry for this lapse. Anyway, they said they needed educational software to demo this on the new device at a trade show in New York City that year. The Toy Fair I think it was. We never did hear back from Atari about whether they actually carried through or not. If I run across any paperwork about this, I'll send it to you."
Compute!'s Second Book of Atari: http://www.atariarchives.org/c2ba/
Blog Post by Ray Lyons: https://libperformance.com/2009/03/05/technology-20/
Tue, 18 October 2016
Russ Walter, Secret Guide to Computers
Russ Walter is the author of Secret Guide to Computers & Tricky Living, a book that he has been publishing and updating since 1972. It is currently in its 32nd edition; he's working on the 33rd now. The book has evolved with technology and time — the current versions cover modern machines like Windows, Android, and iOS. The early editions covered then-modern machines like the Atari 800, TRS-80, Commodore 64, and Apple //.
In addition to the book, Russ provides a free technical support phone number, which he invites people to call at any time, day or night. (My copy of the book, from 1987, says right on the cover: "Call 24 hours: he's usually in and sleeps only lightly.") Though the phone number has changed, some 30 years later, that is still a feature that he offers.
This interview took place on September 15, 2016.
"The craziest call that I got was a girl, sounded like she was 7th or 8th grade or something ... wanted to know how to attract her boyfriend to her."
Secret Guide web site: http://SecretFun.com
Sun, 16 October 2016
In this episode of Antic the Atari 8-bit podcast, we visit vintage computer festivals and upgrade our systems. We fail to spend thousands of dollars on rare new hardware.
What we’ve been up to
New at Archive.org
Of the Month
End of Show Music
Direct download: 36ANTIC_2016_10_Do_Not_Climb_Ladders_While_Listening.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:00am EST
Thu, 13 October 2016
Monty Webb, APX Seven Card Stud
Monty Webb published one program through Atari Program Exchange: Seven Card Stud. The program first appeared in the summer 1982 APX catalog, where it won second prize in the entertainment category. He also self-published the program as Real Poker I, his publishing company was called Real Software.
This interview took place on September 14, 2016.
"And then I could call up a certain sector on a track...and then WHAM, I'd knock a hole in the disk."
"There were shortcuts to try to get that to fit in 16K. ... Somebody was really hot because he has a straight flush that's higher than someone else's straight flush, and the pot split. So he goes crazy and writes me a nastygram..."
Mon, 10 October 2016
Elizabeth MacRae, APX Mankala
Elizabeth MacRae published one program for the Atari 8-bit computers: Mankala, which was published by Atari Program Exchange. It first appeared in the fall 1982 APX catalog, where it won second prize in the entertainment category.
This interview took place on September 13, 2016. After the interview, Elizabeth sent me a scan of the Mankala manual, which is now available at the Internet Archive.
"They didn't think personal computers on everyone's desk was the way to go, because everything worked fine the way it was, with the mainframe handling all of the applications, and that was it."
Mankala manual: https://archive.org/details/APXMankala